Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

The Dema and the Christ: My Engagement and Inner Dialogue with the Cultures and Religions of Melanesia

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

The Dema and the Christ: My Engagement and Inner Dialogue with the Cultures and Religions of Melanesia

Article excerpt

The Dema and the Christ: My Engagement and Inner Dialogue with the Cultures and Religions of Melanesia.

By Ennio Mantovani. Siegburg, Ger.: Verlag Franz Schmitt, 2014. Pp. 301. Paperback 24.90 [euro].

Ennio Mantovani, a member of the Roman Catholic Society of the Divine Word, spent forty years in Papua New Guinea, first as a missionary and then as a lecturer. He is distinguished not only by letting his missionary work be guided by a deep understanding of the indigenous culture and society that he served, but also in allowing that understanding to lead to a personal reexamination of his own Western-oriented theological assumptions. The book is a record of that process. It also has a more ambitious implicit agenda, namely, to contribute to the anthropology of religion at a more general level.

Mantovani begins from the anthropological perspective, presenting the elements of Melanesian religions as he sees them. He groups these into two systems: the first reflecting an earlier hunter-gatherer culture that survives in certain religious symbols and myths, the second reflecting a Neolithic gardening culture that persists to recent times. He labels these the "theistic" and "biocosmic" systems respectively. The hunter-gatherers were more dependent on nature's mercies, and their religious consciousness posited a high God who continually provided for them. The planters were less dependent on nature and more on human planning and cooperation. Their religious consciousness took the form of ritual that perpetuated the cycle of fertility, involving death, burial, and rebirth. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.